Quezon City, Philippines – The national government agencies forming the Project Board/ Steering Committee (PB/SC) of the Implementing the National Framework on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in the Philippines Project (ABS Project) convened on September 27, 2022 to approve and support the project’s implementation strategies.
Director Nieva Natural of the National Economic and Development Authority - Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment Staff (NEDA-ANRES) presided over the meeting on behalf of PB/SC Chairperson and DENR-BMB OIC-Director Natividad Bernardino.
UNDP Philippines Deputy Resident Representative Edwine Carrie noted that the implementation of ABS Project, which is a first of its kind, presents a timely opportunity to firm up the Philippines’ ABS national coordinating mechanisms, including the needed protocols, platforms, and procedures, as the country moves toward the implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the revisiting of the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP).
Carrie further highlighted that through the leadership of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), the partnership among indigenous peoples, local communities, and the private sector could be realized.
“One of the key innovative mechanisms of the ABS Project is the partnership with communities and the private sector, which we desire to realize. This will provide us a learning model that DENR can scale up and replicate,” Carrie said.
PB/SC members approved the project’s 2022-2023 annual work plan and provided recommendations on project implementation strategies. They will convene again on December 7 to provide guidance on project-relevant issues, address potential risks, and appraise the 2023 annual work plan.
With the help of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the local government units concerned, the project will conduct site selection and assessment activities in Bataan, Pampanga, and Zambales, where banaba is abundant, and in Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon, where pili is thriving. This will ensure the proper conduct of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) with indigenous peoples as project partners.
There will also be consultation meetings with research institutions and consortia, academe, and national government agencies for the development of roadmaps for banaba and pili. Discussions with private sector partners, including Pharmalytics, PhilPili, and Herbanext, are also scheduled to ensure UNDP’s private sector due diligence. Furthermore, a workshop on stocktaking and analysis of ABS-related laws and regulations among national competent authorities will be conducted to update, harmonize, and simplify inter-agency ABS regulations.
The ABS Project seeks to increase economic opportunity and biodiversity conservation for indigenous peoples and local communities in the Philippines through fair and equitable sharing of biodiversity benefits. The project aims to develop at least two bioproducts from local genetic resources of banaba in Region III and pili in Region V during its six-year implementation. (ABS Project/ Orange Omengan)